Tuesday, June 3, 2014

US troops 'kidnap' 4-year-old drone strike victim from hospital, allege parents

US troops 'kidnap' 4-year-old drone strike victim from hospital, allege parents

A four-year-old girl whose face was blown off during a US drone strike in Afghanistan was kidnapped by American troops and hidden by an international organization, her family says.

The child, named Aisha Rashid, was travelling with her parents, a sibling and several other relatives from Kabul to their home in the village of Gamber in Kunar province on a hot September day, when the drone exploded, Expressen.se reported. An uncle, Meya Jan, is at home on his farm in that village when he receives a phone call about the strike from the neighboring village. He and others rush to the strike.

Suddenly they hear a voice. “Water, water…”

It is Aisha. She is missing a hand, her leg is bleeding, and there is nothing left of her eyes or nose.

Older relatives rush her to the hospital in Asadabad, but doctors there can do nothing. She is transported by ambulance to a hospital in Jalalabad, where surgeons do what they can to patch her face, but her case is too difficult for them. Hospital staff contact the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), who arranges for her to be sent by medical helicopter to Kabul four days later.

The incident occurred on September 7, 2013, when NATO drones destroyed a pickup truck with civilians inside after its driver agreed to give a lift to Taliban insurgents, provincial governor Shuja ul Mulk Jalala said at the time. A report listed that four women, four children, and four men had been killed in the strike. The remaining four fatalities were said to be Taliban militants. NATO command acknowledged that the strike took place, but stated that the operation killed only militants – not civilians.

Once in the Kabul hospital, Aisha is visited by Afghan President Hamid Karzai. “She had lost the whole family, the entire family, 14 of them, in the bombing in Kunar. And that day . . . [note: there is a 39-second pause as Karzai struggles with his emotions] . . . that day, I wished she were dead, so she could be buried with her parents and brothers and sisters,” he said, recalling the visit in an interview with the Washington Post five months later.

“She is walking now, she is in America. We arranged for her to be taken to America. She’s there now,” Karzai said in the March phone interview.

But Jan and Aisha’s other uncle, Hasrat Gul, did not give permission for the only surviving member of the Rashid family to be taken to the US, nor were they allowed to go with her. And they were not given any news of their niece.